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chris mcbrien
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Inner circle
Chicago
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Me too, Al.
It's like one of those "B" horror films...the strange pre-cursing silence.
(I can't wait until I can do my new Halloween show this Fall!)
I find myself making more and more of my own props as the years progress. I get these brainstorms and it's "off to Home Depot!". I still use a few very, very basic dealer props, but they're the truly utilitarian ones that you can use for many things. I just made a new contraption that the kids in my shows this week and last went absolutely nuts for.
I also carry extra tricks, "just in case" (that was just a plain bad pun). Sometimes I like to simply change things out last minute for a crowd I think a routine may be better suited to than the one originally planned...
Connor Scot
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Some great posts here.
Smarty Pants - I think we can all learn a lot from you. I would really like to see you're show one day.

Al angello - I wish I could carry my show in a briefcase. I certainly don't disagree with you - I am envious of anyone who can entertain with the minimum of bulky props. It takes far more talent!

Connor
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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Hey Connor
I just noticed you, welcome to the magic Café. The place where I learned how to hone my craft.
Al Angello
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Smarty Pants
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Thank you, Connor. That has made my day. I have spent the last 24 hours on The Good News Forum, which turned out to be Bad News. LOL!
magickid1
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Likely because you took a non-christian message over to a christian forum.
Not very prudent was it?

Hey Connor, where are you from?
Hey Smarty Pants, where are you from?

You two always seem to post within a short time of each other, just wondering if your in the same time zone or something?

Anyway, have a Jolly day.
Mike Brezler
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Waynesboro, Pa.
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When I started performing for kids around four years ago I bought everything. I was new, nervous, and thought that was the way you do it. The last couple of years I have invented some of my own routines and expanded on some store bought tricks. Even more importantly is that I have created my own style of magic and persona. If the kids love you and you're entertaining and fun... the magic can become secondary.
Connor Scot
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Hello Al, Smarty and MagicKid. I am from Chesterfield in England - the little town with the crooked spire.

Mr Mike, I was just like you and for a couple of years I just bought all the biggest, most expensive props in the hope that they would do all the work for me. It was a bit of a revelation to me when a rope routine that I had been doing since I was 10 years old became the most talked about part of my show. This is probably because I relaxed more while doing it and I wasn't hiding behind a big prop.
I am trying to cut down the amount of stuff I carry now and sell my personality instead.
jakeg
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When I want to put something in my act I usually learn the routine that drew me to it in the first place. After doing it for awhile, it seems to naturally customize itself with additional bits of business and patter and eventually becomes my own ... maybe.
I know there there are a number of improv companies out there, but I have yet to see a successful Broadway show where the actors wrote their own scripts. Unthinkable.
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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Magickid1
You are new too, welcome to the magic Café. No matter what people tell you, I am not Roger.

Connor
Every year my equipment gets smaller, some day I will do it with what's in my pockets. HA HA HA
Al Angello
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Smarty Pants
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It seems from this thread that the people who have been in magic longer are the ones who buy less props from the dealers, and create their own routines. It would be interesting to hear from some dealers as to whether they mainly sell their standard mass produced props to beginners or those who have been performing a number of years.
rossmacrae
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Arlington, Virginia
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I can think of a few "cobbled together myself" items I couldn't do without:

Large-size STURDY Breakaway Fan (1-foot lengths of flat wooden molding, a bolt, striped cotton cloth, construction staples)

A "Bengal Net"-type story routine involving cartoons of 3 of birthday kid's friends cut out of vinyl upholstery fabric velcroed to a back cloth, that change to colorful (sewn-on) cutouts with a colorful smiling birthday kid in the middle. I'm fondest of the fact that it uses my favorite magic principle: if you had any idea what was gonna happen you'd see the 'secret' in plain view, but since you don't know what to watch you never catch the secret.

20th-Century Underpants.

20th-Century Cub Scout Neckerchief.

STURDY (and large enough) Mismade Flag.
Danny Hustle
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Boston, MA USA
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This is such a great thread! I have a good mix of store bought and made it myself props. I almost always throw in gags and bits as part of my routines as these are the things that makes my show unique to me. I rarely buy a prop and do it as described and I avoid "cookie cutter" routines that come with all the fixings like the plague. I do agree with Tony that these cookie cutter routines allow a beginning performer to at least make a go of it but I also see a lot of them buying the same prop (and routine) that their buddy got and they do them word for word. I think that hurts us all in a way because it makes the customer think we are often all the same.

I was talking about this with some friends not to long ago and I think it is unique to magic. If somebody hires a stand up comic, singer, band, accordion player, whatever, and they are awful, the customer says, "Boy that person was awful!" With magicians for some reason when they see a bad one they say, "I'll never hire a magician again! They are all awful!" I have actually had customers come up to me after a show to book me for their event and say, "Well, we had a magician for two years running and we swore we would never hire a magician again because they are all so awful. But, you were really good." And it is truly shocking to them that they saw a magician that they found entertaining. I really don't know what to make of it. Have any of you experienced this? It is so strange.

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Smarty Pants
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-With magicians for some reason when they see a bad one they say, "I'll never hire a magician again! They are all awful!" -

I get comments like this all the time, Danny. I am sure I will get slapped for saying this, because the truth often does hurt, but I think there are so many awful magicians out there. I get nearly all my shows through referrals. If someone is calling around and does not know me, and my fee is too high for them, I suggest they call other entertainers and ask them for references before they book. This helps elevate the standard, and one knows that the clients will be happy.
kimmo
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Sheffield
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Why should you get slapped for saying that Smarty? You are not accusing anyone on here of being one of those bad magicians and I'm pretty sure we are all aware they exist. I get a lot of calls from people who want a ventriloquist 'because kids don't like magicians and clowns'. I can usually guess which ones in my area they've seen if they make a comment like that!
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Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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I agree, a bad children's entertainer will muddy the water for everyone else. The people that see him, or book him won't hire another entertainer for their future parties.

Until of course they go to a party and see a good one.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
chris mcbrien
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Chicago
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I hear that comment all the time! There are bad ones around here who have been bad for years!!! I moved to where I am only a few years ago, and since then I've heard numerous horror stories about performers and they always are amazed to have found a "good magician"! Even though I still market well, many of my shows are simply referrals within social groups.
Very strange phenomena, but very true.
Chris
Smarty Pants
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I am glad we are all in agreement. So, does anyone have any ideas what we can do about the bad magicians and children's entertainers who are performing sub-standard shows in our area?
Danny Hustle
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Boston, MA USA
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I know in my area I am getting the work and they are not. I think that is the only thing you can really do. A lot of these guys (most of them as a matter of fact) have no idea how bad they are.

Some of them are marketing monsters though and that is where you run into the real problems. People can't book you if they don't know who you are.

Also because many of these guys market the heck out of themselves and are working when you try to pull them aside and help them out they get very defensive and arrogant.

Some of them will eventually get good for no other reason than repetition so that helps.

The funny thing is at least in my area (Boston) there is a big enough pie that the work has the potential to be there for a lot of performers as long as the bad ones do not poison the well.

Everybody has a bad day or a bad show but I have seen some of these guys die a thousand deaths and think they did a great job. In stand up comedy they call it laughing ears where a comic goes out and dies and comes off stage thinking they, "killed 'em". I see the same thing in magic. I really don't know if there is a way to convince somebody that they need improvement when they think they are, "killing 'em".

How can you contend with that attitude?

I just go out and try to do good work. I figure the cream should rise to the top. Outside of that I do not know if there is an answer.

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Al Angello
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Eternal Order
Collegeville, Pa. USA
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Dan
There are so many guys that think of it as easy money, so they buy some self working props, a how to be a magician course, how to market yourself as a magician course, and there you have it, a cookie cutter guy who doesn't even know he stinks.
Al Angello
Al Angello The Comic Juggler/Magician
http://www.juggleral.com
http://home.comcast.net/~juggleral/
"Footprints on your ceiling are almost gone"
Lewis Carroll
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Hi Everyone,

Of course, somewhere in the loft I still have my 1977 "Pan Book of Magic" that I studied every moment of my spare time on Summer Season as a Pianist in 1978 in North Wales for a certain Fred Pontin Holiday Camp. I then spent an arm and a leg with Edwin Hooper at Supreme Magic, Devon, England. Half of the stuff I bought I ended up never using. I had also been working with several magicians, and it was, rather naughtily on my part, unknown to them I was secretly very interested in the business. So not all of us have entered the art of children's entertainment totally untainted.

But I very, very quickly realised the responsibilities of the business. How people trust you, both with their children and in their homes; and how easily people paid out good money to you. I suddenly, within a matter of weeks, had moved from being a musician waiting for the next contract, or band or club job from an agent; - to a totally self supporting self-employed person with a rock solid business.

I think that lack of responsibility and reliability is an even greater sin than a beginner 'feeling their way' a bit, and not being 100% proficient in the art. Tony James will back me up on this, - we've had some absolute 'horrors' in the South Manchester/Cheshire areas of the UK over the decades. Some wonder there is anything left at all.

Yes, I too agree that one bad (or probably more to the point, UNSUITABLE) Magician taints everyone else for miles around

'cat'

http://www.soundclick.com/pianist
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